Did you know that there are only three living reefs in Western North America? Did you know that Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to one of them?
Cabo Pulmo Reef is estimated to be 20,000 years old which makes it a cherished treasure of the Baja California peninsula.Situated just 60 miles north of Los Cabos, this protected marine park is encompassed by undeveloped desert and mountains that cradle a shallow bay where you can find some of the healthiest coral reefs. The fusion of warm and cold waters create a perfect ecosystem for a large concentration of marine life; making it an excellent destination for snorkeling and diving.
Before it became a National Marine Park in 1995, it endured tremendous pressures from commercial fishing and abuse from irresponsible visitors. Thanks to the efforts of the Mexican government and concerned private sectors, the reef is thriving and inhabited by a large concentration of species including corals, seaweed, more than 220 types of fish, sea lions, sea turtles, and whales.
December, the merriest time of the year for whale watchers in the park is just around the corner. The whale watching season which runs up to April is the perfect opportunity to witness the ocean’s giant mammals in their natural habitat.
The humpback whales are the most common whale species that you can encounter in the park during this period. Noted for their dark gray or black body with white patches on their stomach and knobs, these enormous creatures can reach about the size of a school bus. One of their unique characteristics is their ability to produce haunting and melodic songs that can continue for hours on end. Humpback whales are curious creatures which is probably why they are often seen approaching and coming alongside boats. They love making a spectacle and would often raise themselves above the water and then splash back down.
Sperm whales which are easily recognized by their gigantic heads and prominently rounded foreheads also make their way to the park . They may be spotted at the park in small groups of females and calves.
Gray whales, one of the great migrators of the animal kingdom may also be encountered at the marine park. These gray-skinned giants are often covered with blotches, parasites, and other organisms which give them a crusty appearance. During winter, about 97% of the gray whale population migrates to the small bays of Baja California Peninsula.
Cruising gentle giants
The majestic whale sharks make their presence felt in the National Park each fall season. Although sightings are not guaranteed, there’s a chance to spot and even snorkel in Cabo Pulmo with the largest fish in the world from October through March. These gentle giants of the sea can grow up to 40 feet and weigh more than 20 tons. Incredibly, whale sharks can live for more than 100 years.
Bounty of predators
Several species of sharks, some residents, and other transients make the National Park their playground and breeding ground. Bull Sharks which are aptly named for their short, blunt snout and penchant to head-butt their prey gather in large numbers during the cold water season. Hammerhead sharks which utilize their oddly shaped heads to seek their prey may also be encountered at the park. The boost in the number of predators only shows that the conservation efforts of the reef are a big success.
One of the spectacular sights in the park is the schools of gliding mobula rays that come cascading during seasonal water temperatures change in May-July and November-January. It’s astounding to watch mobulas as they perform their acrobatic moves underwater and display their leaping prowess from the water.
Playful sea lions
More than 400 sea lions reside in the Sea of Cortez and there’s always a good chance to encounter some of these playful seals when you go snorkeling or diving at the marine park. Sea lions are curious creatures so don’t be surprised if one of them gracefully glides towards you to take a closer look.
Experience these wonders first hand
If you want to see these remarkable natural wonders with your own eyes, you can join the Cabo Pulmo Scuba Diving Trip for a unique underwater adventure.